UNENDING BRICKBAT IN EDO HOUSE
Seven months after the sack of Zakawanu Garuba as Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, things are yet to return normalcy in the House. From the gate of the Assembly at the Kings Square, one could feel the uneasiness. Since that leadership change, severally trucks of anti-riot mobile policemen are deployed in front of the House.
Garuba was sacked as the Speaker early in the year in a bloody impeachment by 13 Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) legislators. One of the PDP legislators defected to the ACN, bringing their number to 14.
While the remaining 10 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislators have continuously stayed away, their ACN counterparts have carried on as if nothing has happened.
Apparently to whip the PDP legislators into line, the new leadership of the House suspended four members of the PDP for their roles on the impeachment day. The House later declared the seat of six other PDP legislators vacant for 'continuously staying away from the House'.
Bone of contention
The raging controversy is the constitutionality of the removal of Zakawanu and the subsequent sittings by the Assembly.
The PDP leader of the House, Frank Okiye said the ACN legislators never had the required two-third majority to sack the House leadership. For him, that singular act means that what is in place currently is not the properly constituted legislature of the state. He said the decision of his party legislators to boycott the House was because they do not wish to be a part of illegality.
He told Daily Sun that the Assembly is 'a gathering of AC legislators sitting somewhere around the Kings Square. The law says nothing placed on nothing can stand. If ab-nitio there is no proper constitution of a House, then there is no House. So, what they are doing there and what they are saying there are merely described as unserious activity; Cosmetic in nature. Just to siphon cash for their own selfish benefit against the interest of the state. And I can tell you that is the truth.'
'The law says the removal of a speaker is with a vote of two third. And what we have been able to demonstrate is that they never had two third. They only loaded thugs and invaded the House. There was no petition. Nothing. Only thirteen that was supposed to constitute a mere plus one simple majority, and then conclude that they have changed the leadership. So, it is never done. You cannot imagine that kind of House constituted with just thirteen. You are aware thirteen cannot form a majority.'
But the former deputy Speaker, Hon Omon Ezomon disagrees. Ezomon who is the Parliamentary Liaison Officer to Governor Adams Oshiomhole said the change of leadership in the Assembly last February cannot be faulted.
'A number of times I have told people that what transpired in the Assembly was nothing unusual. It is a normal thing. We have had to accept change where it is necessary and that was what happened in the House of Assembly, necessitated by change for positive development in Edo State. And that is what the situation is.' He said the issue of whether the House legally removed the former speaker or not is before the court. And four members were on suspension. And they have not been able to make themselves available, show remorse for those barbaric things they did. The others deliberately refused to attend sittings. That does not in anyway stop the progress of the House, because in the House, there is a speaker, deputy speaker, there majority leader, they are officials of the House in all spheres. So, the progress of the House is not in doubt. Most decisions in the House are taken by simple majority except issues that really bother on constitution. And most of those issues are few.
He said any talk of two-third in the House should actually be on the basis of those who presently constute the House. He said since four members are on suspension and the position of six others have been declared vacant, those remaining are more than two third. According to him, you should now begin to count two third of those that presently constitute the House, because the seat of about six of them who continuously refuse to attend sittings for a number of months were declared vacant. So if you talk of two third, you should be talking of two third of eighteen and you have about 14 of them sitting. So, it is manifestly clear that they have two third to do whatever they want to do to meet constitutional requirement on issues', he stated.
A PDP chieftain and former presidential aide, Professor Julius Ihonvbere told Daily Sun that what is happening in the State House of Assembly is a case of political rascality. He said there was no way, 13 out of 24 legislators could have removed a speaker and claim that it is legitimate.
'The issue is very clear. The Speaker adjourned the House. There no where 12 or 13 can be majority of 24. How can they claim to be sitting legitimately? Ihonbere queried.
He said Oshiomhole should be able to address the issues of 'political rascality' as it concerns the state Assembly.
The PDP chieftain wonders what will become of the various laws the Assembly has been making since the leadership crisis erupted last February if the court declares them null and void.
But former deputy speaker said the PDP should come to reality and understand 'that politics is about development. And change. And that is what has been happening in Edo State. I will make a call on them to join Edo State governor, to ensure that what the governor is doing is better enhanced by their co-operation.